Patrick shaken up at first after Subway Fresh Fit 500, but ready to race Sunday
LAS VEGAS -- Danica Patrick showed up for her press conference Friday morning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway sounding a bit groggy and complaining of a slight headache.
But the aches and pains aren’t a sign of some lingering problem from the hard crash she had last week in the Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway. She said they were the result of being hit in the head by a small rock while watching a World of Outlaws race at the dirt track race in Las Vegas on Thursday night.
In fact, Patrick had nothing but praise for NASCAR’s Generation-6 car, which got a good safety test last weekend when her No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet blew a tire sending it hard into the SAFER barrier walls at the 1-mile Phoenix oval.
“The cars are safer than they’ve ever been and the tracks,’’ said Patrick, who was cleared medically at the track soon after the accident.
“I said after last weekend that I’m glad that I didn’t race in the era of the lack of SAFER barriers out there because I don’t know what it’s like without them. I know that the hits feel hard and my neck was sore after last weekend for sure, which it never has been before, after a wreck.’’
Patrick said she was confident in the medical care following her accident and declined having further tests done.
“I was able to say my name and where I was born,’’ Patrick said. “They take your blood pressure, they do like vitals and they ask how you’re feeling and I really felt fine. It’s understandable that my neck would be sore.
“They’re thorough, but it’s based on your information too. . … It’s up to you to be honest about it and it’s your decision. You can say, ‘I’m fine,’ and go along with your day. If you’re not, it’s your risk.’’
Patrick said her Stewart-Haas Racing team competition director Greg Zipadelli spoke with Goodyear about the incident. Both she and teammate Ryan Newman had a tire go down.
But Goodyear said Friday it doesn’t consider the incidents to be an issue with the tire.
“Heat, it’s as simple as that,’’ NASCAR Vice President for Competition Robin Pemberton said Thursday. “They have the ability to cool more. It’s a compromise. When you try to run the front of the car as closed off as much as you can for down force, it’s a compromise at every different race track that we run at.’’
“The target changes throughout the year because of the speeds.’’
For this weekend, Patrick had a previously arranged follow-up visit with the medical team on Friday morning to finish up paperwork and gave her a quick check-up before sending her on her way.
And when asked if she’d wage a bet on herself to score a top-25 in Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 Sunday, she did not hesitate, “Yeah.’’
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